While the world sat transfixed in bars, pubs, living rooms and flophouses — the United States presented a televised corporate business card that did more to inflame the ire of the world than it did to promote the career of an aging icon to opulence and Botox.
We have the world's attention, so we throw them a freak show that included pyrotechnics, technology and glitter. This was no Olympics opening ceremony, where the spirit of hope and union between nations is often the message.
During Super Bowl LXVI's halftime, the message was sadly lacking, and in its place was an emptiness that only comes from the corporate belch of gluttony. American decadence at its most decadent. Another symptom of a sick society. A waste of a 77 share to unite the nation at least in the fleeting time it took Madonna to nearly break a hip and lip-synch with all the accuracy and finesse of a Japanese Godzilla movie.
Clint Eastwood's commercial of hope was the antidote — the antithesis of the Madonna sugar rush that must have caused the hearts of teenage girls to race, and the hands of teenage boys to sweat while they clutched remote controls, braving Carpal Tunnel Syndrome as they furiously clicked the pause button. But I digress.
Kudos to the producers for engaging the Indianapolis Children's Choir in this mess. At least those kids got a thrill and a night out — but what of the almost 30 percent of children in Indianapolis who live below the national poverty rate?
Those who are old enough to clutch a football and dream of greatness can look forward to a future of navigating through what is called "Dropout Nation." Indianapolis public schools exemplify the problems of the nation's worst public school systems.
How many teacher's salaries, textbooks, and shoulder pads could have been bought with what was spent on 15 minutes of entertainment? What message does the NFL send to those kids who would fervently beg "put me in coach" — if only there was an intramural program that hadn't lost its funding?
How many inner city kids could be turned away from shagging crack and robbing Circle K's if only there were programs that took them off of the street?
Instead we turn a deaf ear to society while we shove Cheetos into our gaping yaws and watch an aged chanteuse work her way through millions of production and staging dollars while rappers flip the television audience the bird.
Welcome to Amerika. Bring money.
It's not only the corporate culture to blame. I blame the artist as well. Demands placed on promoters and venues for their own personal comfort are detailed in what are called "riders."
Back in the day, the Beatles were arguably the greatest act in show business. They demanded "four cots, mirrors, an ice cooler, portable TV set, clean towels and a riser for Ringo's drums."
By comparison, Madonna's rider recently contained demands for Swarovski crystal ear phones, a chiropractor, a masseuse, nutritional demands and spreads that would rival the buffet at the Bellagio, etc., etc. The Beatles did demand a bottle each of scotch and Coke.
They know that they can make these demands because corporate America underwrites their exploits while forcing the hands of promoters to price tickets way beyond the affordability of most Americans. The average price of a Super Bowl ticket on the secondary market? Close to $3,000. Blame the NFL and player's salaries that create a convenient alibi for corporations to stiff the
American middle class.
Contrast the feeding frenzy of Madonna's halftime show to the commercial by Clint Eastwood that followed it. In Eastwood's commercial for Chrysler, it wasn't about selling cars, it was about selling Detroit. It was inspiring, sobering and refreshing. It washed out my soul after Madonna put it in a sugar coma.
My cousin Zak put it perfectly in a comment on one of my Facebook tirades:
"They didn't just sell Detroit… they sold the perseverance and hard work that is supposed to be the bedrock of the American Dream. … I doubt that any PAC will come up with an ad as poignant as this one."
Something that will wake the world up from it's hatred for us. Set an example that is usually seen in Olympic opening events where unity and nationalism is shared by the world. You wouldn't need a delay on it — no wardrobe malfunctions or middle finger salutes. Let a man who inspires us inspire the world.
After that, we can start working on NFL excesses and outrageous player salaries and return football back to the people.